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Safe Battery Disposal
Whenever people set out to clean every inch of the home, one thing they are likely to come across is old batteries that are non-functional. There might be a drawer, old toys, or appliances filled with them.
Generally, people dump old batteries into the waste bin. Most are unaware of the composition of batteries, and hence they do not understand the damage batteries can cause.
What To Consider Before Battery Disposal
Batteries contain heavy metals and harsh chemicals. These chemicals pose a danger to the environment if batteries are not correctly disposed of. Placing old batteries into general waste landfills is especially menacing.
When expired batteries are disposed of into landfills, the harmful chemicals inside them leak out. They pollute the land and water, which in turn causes harm to humans and animals that come in contact with these toxic substances.
As you think about the proper disposal of batteries, understand that they can be categorised as either primary or secondary batteries as discussed below:
• Primary Batteries - Primary batteries are single-use cells. They are typically used in toys, watches, smoke alarms, clocks, audio-visual equipment, and remotes. They are the most common on the market today. These are disposable and include lithium, carbon, zinc, alkaline, and button batteries.
• Secondary Batteries - Secondary batteries, also commonly referred to as rechargeable batteries, can be found in mobile phones, cordless drills, laptops, cameras, and shavers. Secondary batteries consist of heavy and toxic metals such as mercury, cadmium, and lead. These metals are very harmful to animals and humans.
Cut off the use of batteries as much as possible. Plug-in portable devices into the mains whenever you can. Consider shifting to rechargeable batteries because they have 32 times less impact on the environment compared to disposable batteries. Rechargeable batteries are standard these days and can be found at any major retailer. Secondary batteries can be charged many times, making them a safer and economical option.
Proper Disposal Of Batteries
Batteries should be disposed of correctly to reduce their negative impact on the environment. Take it upon yourself to dispose of car batteries properly; otherwise, they will end up in a landfill. Using rechargeable batteries saves you money in terms of replacement costs, but eventually, you will have to dispose of them. So, be sure to do it properly.
Find the drop-off points near you. These points ensure that your batteries do not enter landfills. They either dispose of them properly or recycle batteries for further use. There are special battery recycling bins in various parts of Australia. You can find the closest one on the internet easily. After collection, experts sort and send them to licensed recycling facilities across Australia.
Recycling batteries can be an expensive and complex process because batteries contain hazardous chemicals. Mostly, refuse companies recycle their plastic and metal components into new batteries. Batteries should be recycled separately to serve their purpose. However, due to lack of awareness, almost 97% of the batteries end up in general waste landfills, meaning that almost 8000 tonnes of batteries go to waste annually.
Australia does not have any national battery recycling scheme for disposable batteries. For this reason, most of the batteries end up being toxic to the environment. Recycling is the best way to save the environment against the harmful chemicals in batteries.
Why Recycle Batteries?
Poorly disposed batteries are a risk to human health and the environment in general. Valuable metals become part of waste along with toxic ones. We can recover these metals through recycling. You should recycle your batteries to:
• Reduce the number of landfills
• Minimise the use of limited natural resources in the production of batteries
• Remove as many toxic substances from the land as possible
• Remove hazardous elements like lead, cadmium, and mercury from the land
• Reduce the risk of explosions and fires resulting from improperly disposed of lithium batteries
• Reduce the impact of transporting large volumes of batteries, especially the one-use disposable kind, on the environment
You can recycle household batteries very easily. It costs nothing to drop the batteries at participating battery collection centres. You can drop them off at council depots and transfer stations. You can also find battery recyclers in Australia through the internet.
Australia, however, does not have any recycling scheme for non-rechargeable batteries. But that does not mean that your old non-rechargeable batteries should be disposed of in the curbside recycling bin or general waste bin.
Recently, leading members of the battery industry joined forces to form the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative. The group enlisted the names of a few businesses and outlets as their drop-off locations. They are meant to encourage the safe disposal and recycling of batteries. Some of their outlets are Battery World and Aldi.
After collection and sorting, the batteries are sent to recyclers in Australia and overseas. The recyclers recover the precious materials and resources from the batteries.
Batteries And Landfills
Today, batteries and landfills are synonymous. Poor disposal of used batteries has caused landfills to mushroom quite easily. In Australia, people started focusing on the side effects of throwing batteries in landfills, although so far, only 3% of the total batteries disposed of have been recycled. All the other batteries still go to the landfills.
The primary reason why Australia finds it challenging to restore batteries is their very poor performance as compared to other systems. These batteries are either sold in the market or collected at designated points where experts check their condition to decide if they can be recycled.
Safe Battery Handling Guidelines
You should be very careful when handling old batteries because they are potentially hazardous. Here are some guidelines that can keep you safe from accidents:
• Always keep button cells and round batteries away from children. They can cause choking and chemical burns.
• Check the batteries carefully for any leakage because they have toxic material inside them, which can cause poisoning.
• Keep the battery away from sunlight because it can cause them to start leaking toxic substances.
• Place individual batteries in individual plastic bags to reduce the risk of fire. Lithium-based batteries such as button cells remain safe in separate plastic bags or sleeves.
When In Doubt Seek Out Professional Services
When it comes to the process of discarding batteries in Australia, it can be quite a complicated and confusing endeavor. However, there are professional services available that are qualified and knowledgeable in the process of battery disposal. Therefore, as such, it is in your best interest to contact these professionals to safely and correctly dispose of used batteries.